Well, I’m about 2 months behind writing about my time in Europe, so I probably should try and catch up. Here’s episode 1 of a sporadicly updated N part series.
After a long, but relatively uneventful journey of 17,000 kilometers from Melbourne, we finally arrived in Sanremo. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend the train ride from Genova to Sanremo, it’s an hour and a half of picturesque seaside towns and rocky shores. If you just want to get to Sanremo quickly after 30-something hours of travel, remember to fly into Nice. A 1 hour train ride from Nice versus a 4+ hours from Milano is probably going to be a little more comfortable. We found our hotel easily, despite claims on some websites that it was impossible to find (the directions we were given were quite accurate). If you’re after somewhere clean, central and relatively inexpensive to stay, I can definitely recommend the Pollon Inn, which as we later discovered, is one of the handful of hotels in Sanremo with air-conditioning as well.
Following my first shower in a day-and-a-half, we decided to explore the town a little. Sanremo is a very tourist-friendly town, being a popular destination for summer holidays. If you don’t mind walking uphill for a bit, there is an excellent garden above the old town, with very good views over the city.
In somewhat related news, I think I’ll be happy if I never see the stretch of track between Genova and Milano again. We did a day trip to Milano to check out work/apartment options, combined with travel for ACLE (see upcoming posts), I’ve seen that hour of flat countryside more times than I care to remember.
As luck would have it, Liam was staying in Nice at the same time we were in Sanremo, this sounded like an excellent excuse to visit France for lunch (and dinner, as it turned out). Nice is a very pretty town, much of it apparently being rebuilt over the past few years to make it more tourist friendly. In retrospect, staying in Nice for the week prior to ACLE training would have been a good idea. Sadly, due to our desire to stay longer than 3 months, a visa is required, which means navigating the bureaucracy of the Italian visa and residency system. This is a story deserving of its own post, but let me say this much: if it seems as if you’re getting through it far too easily, it’s because you are. At some point, it will all go horribly, horribly wrong.
In happier news, the ACLE training camp was an excellent experience. If you’re looking for a way to spend your mid-year break, ACLE is a very good option. Arriving for the start of training involves making your way to Sanremo train station, where you’ll be met by the ACLE greeting party of office folk and returning tutors. We were changed to a different hotel, Hotel Centro. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this one. It was in an excellent location, but it had two problems that the Pollon Inn had it beat on: air-conditioning, and beds long enough for me to fit into. It seems that Gary-sized beds are a rare commodity in Italy.
After dumping our stuff at the new hotel, it was time for a get-to-know-you aperitivo at the Sax Bar. For those not familiar with the Italian tradition of aperitivo, it basically amounts to pre-dinner drinks, with small savory snacks to go with it. Bars will frequently serve the snacks for free, though it is considered good manners to continue buying drinks while you’re there.
As for the actual training itself, I don’t have a lot to say about it. I found it to be a very thorough introduction to teaching English to small children, covering various methods for keeping them interested, and for communicating the concepts. We also got to visit some of the restaurants throughout Sanremo, which was a good introduction to Italian culture, and an excellent opportunity to hang out with fellow tutors.
Finally, it was time to move onto our first camps, which for us was in Como. I’ll be writing about that one in my next update-with-no-fixed-schedule.